CLAE News

On 15 July 2016 CLAE published a press release welcoming the swift action taken by the Bavarian parliament to require the government to undertake and publish a report on works of art which “with the assistance of the management of the Staatsgemaeldesammlungen (State Paintings Collections) or the State Government” were handed back to high-ranking Nazis and their families. CLAE calls for the investigation to include clarification of the provenance of the artworks so that the rightful owners of any works that were looted can be identified and assured of restitution or compensatory justice. CLAE also calls on the Bavarian government to ensure that all documents from the State Paintings Collection and other relevant government bodies are published and made fully accessible. The release welcomes the recent commitment of the Dombauverein (Cathedral Association) Xanten to restitute the Jan van der Heyden painting confiscated from the Kraus family in 1941 in Vienna and which was returned by Bavaria in 1962 not to the Kraus family but to Henriette Hoffmann-von Schirach whose father, Hitler's official photographer, acquired it in Vienna through the good offices of his son-in-law, her husband Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna. She sold it the following year and it was purchased by the Dombauverein. The release sets out the history of the negotiations with the Dombauverein since the claim was submitted in July 2011 and the Kraus family's response to this new development. To read the press release, see below.

On 29 June 2016
CLAE published its response to the Bavarian State Paintings Collections statement of 28 June attempting to refute the facts published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung article 'Munich's Looted Art Bazaar' of 25 June on return-sales to high-ranking Nazi families and in CLAE's Press Release Nazi-Looted Art returned by Germany to the high-ranking Nazis who looted it rather than returning it to rightful owners of 27 June. CLAE's response shows that the BSGS statement is both inaccurate and misleading. The BSGS statement, which makes no mention of the victims of Nazi looting, and refers to provenance research as "tedious", further confirms the need for root and branch reform in the way research and restitution are carried out in Germany, so that justice becomes fully available. CLAE's response is available here in both English and German. The BSGS statement is available also in  English and German.

On 25 June 2016 CLAE published groundbreaking original research showing that Germany returned Nazi looted artworks to the high-ranking Nazi families who stole it rather than to the families from whom this was taken, and that this remarkable scandal has been covered up by Germany for decades. At the same time, the looted families had their claims thrown out or impossible hurdles created to prevent them recovering their artworks - and this continues today. CLAE is now calling for a full accounting of these shameful transactions with the high-ranking Nazis and the way they have been hidden, as well as for three essential changes in the way Germany handles research and restitution:

1. Lists of all artworks in German collections whose provenance is problematic must be published so families have a chance of finding their missing paintings; there can be no more waiting for individual item provenance research to be done first;

2. All relevant records must be open and accessible. In particular, the records of the Bavarian Museums must be handed over to the State Archives in accordance with German law;

3. Germany must create a single, fair, transparent and accountable claims process that applies to all collections throughout Germany, at both federal and state level, so that all families can be confident their claims will be dealt with justly.

Germany already made these commitments 18 years ago at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, but has not implemented them. CLAE says that without total transparency and accountability, the victims of the Nazi looting will continue to be denied the justice that is so long overdue.

To read CLAE's press release about its research, click here. To read the full story published over three pages in Sueddeutsche Zeitung in English or German, click here.

On 24 March 2015 the Commission issued a press release announcing the restitution of the El Greco painting 'Portrait of a Man' to the heirs of Vienna industrialist Julius Priester from whom it was seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss in 1938. The Commission represents the Priester heirs, and Art Recovery International, with whom the release was issued, represents the London art dealer who acquired the painting in 2010 and who was persuaded to agree its return. 

On 29 April 2014 the Commission and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) in Berlin issued a joint press release announcing their collatoration in clarifying the circumstances of loss of the art collection of Anna Caspari, a renowned Jewish art dealer of Munich, who was deported and murdered in Riga by the Nazis in 1941. This agreement followed the discovery in April of a Kokoschka painting Pariser Platz (Brandenburger Tor) from the Anna Caspari collection hanging in the office of the President of the SPK, Hermann Parzinger. A further statement will be issued with the results of the findings. CLAE represents the family of Anna Caspari.

In October 2013, November 2013 and February 2014 four profiles of the Commission were published in Harper's Bazaar, Tagesspiegel, Haaretz and The Jewish Chronicle:
The Art of War Harper's Bazaar 3 October 2013
Gurlitt ist nur der Anfang - Gurlitt is Only the Beginning
Tagesspiegel 19 November 2013
Dealing with Nazi-looted art is Germany’s Achilles’ heel Haaretz 25 February 2014
Campaigner’s new hope over battle for looted art The Jewish Chronicle 27 February 2014

The Jewish Chronicle also published a leader on 27 February 2014 arising from the profile, with the title Merkel must do more on looted art.

On 8 May 2013 the Commission, as a member of the Executive Board of the Portal,, co-organised a meeting of existing and new  participants in the International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property at http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/international-resources/. Nine new members have now joined the Portal making a total of 20 organisations across Europe and the USA which are providing essential records including government documents, art and dealer records, Nazi confiscation records and post-war claims records to assist claimants and researchers seeking to identify and recover their looted property.

In July 2012 the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar announced it had re-purchased from his family the unique collection of almanacs and first editions of bibliophile Arthur Goldschmidt, an expert on Goethe and Schiller. Forcibly acquired by the Library in 1936, his family was traced to Bolivia, Brazil and Germany by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe over a period of three months, and their tragic story was revealed. On 8 February 2013 the formal restitution and re-purchase took place.

On 29 June 2012 the Austrian Beirat recommended the restitution of two paintings acquired by the Belvedere in 1940, both from the collection of Dr Josef Blauhorn. The family's claim was rejected in 1952 and, when reviewed by the Beirat, it was found that it was justified and the paintings should have been returned 60 years ago. The family's lawyer in Vienna had been charged with safeguarding their collection. Instead of which, he misappropriated the paintings, stating that they were in lieu of his fees, which had in fact been paid, and sold them to the Belvedere which claimed in 1952 they had been acquired in good faith and there were therefore no grounds to return them. To read the decision of the Beirat, click here.

On 18 April 2012 a 16th century Baroque painting depicting Christ carrying the cross was returned by the US authorities to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, a Jewish man who died shortly before the German occupation of France in World War II. On 6 February 2012 US Federal Judge Robert Hinkle had ordered the return of the painting. Previously, in January 2012, the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida had ordered the forfeiture of the painting, the Cristo Portacroce Trascinato Da Un Manigoldo after its seizure on 4 November 2011 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The Commission for Looted Art in Europe had been seeking the return of the painting from the Italian government, which held it in the Brera Museum in Milan, and assisted in obtaining the seizure and return of the painting. See below for further details of the case.

On 14 December 2011 the UK Government announced that the most important archive on the Holocaust would open in the UK. 50 million records on 17.5 million people currently held by the the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, have been digitised, and will be accessible at The Wiener Library in London, the world's oldest Holocaust memorial institution. The Library already hosts the UK’s largest collection of personal papers and testimonies of refugees and Holocaust survivors. The ITS records come from concentration, slave labour and displaced persons’ camps from the Nazi-era, the Second World War and the ten years that followed. Anne Webber, Co-Chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, convened and chaired the UK Stakeholder Group which led the initiative to bring the archive to the UK. To read more, see below.

On 5 May 2011
the Commission announced its partnership and participation in the new International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property at http://www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/international-resources/. The Commission selected, described and provided the introduction to the records of the UK National Archives at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/looted-art.asp.  For full details of this global initiative, see the press releases and news stories below.   

Other News: The news stories below focus on the work of CLAE. A comprehensive archive of all news stories on Nazi looting and art restitution can be found at www.lootedart.com/news at the Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945. The Central Registry was set up by CLAE to provide up-to-date information about research, publications, conferences, exhibitions and cases relating to the Nazi seizure of art and its recovery.  To sign up for the Central Registry’s free newsletter, click subscribe.

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